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The Sun, as a result of its activity, regularly ejects plasma streams called solar storm into its surrounding space. When at this moment the Earth is opposite the ejection, the solar wind rushes to our planet at great speed and causes magnetic storms. We have already said that as a result of solar storms, problems arise with the operation of satellites, so the Internet and GPS navigation may stop working. If the storm is powerful, then it can disable electrical appliances and even lead to a massive blackout. To summarize, solar storms can lead to man-made emergencies. But, can they cause a natural disaster, for example, cause a tsunami? There is no definite answer to this question, but we will consider all the pros and cons that scientists express.
How and why do tsunamis occur?
Tsunamis are long ocean waves that result from a powerful impact on the water column. As a rule, earthquakes are the cause of tsunamis, when lithospheric plates begin to move under the ocean floor. They displace water, which creates an ultra-fast and powerful wave. Also, tsunamis can result from a powerful volcanic eruption, as was the case in January of this year, when Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai erupted.
But what about a solar storm? No matter how powerful it is, the plasma falling on the Earth is unable to displace water from the ocean to create a wave. However, this does not mean that a solar storm cannot cause this natural disaster. According to some scientists, the flow of solar plasma can provoke a giant wave, however, indirectly.
How a solar storm can cause a tsunami
There are such powerful storms on our star that they leave their marks on Earth for thousands of years. As scientists report in a recent study, which can be found in the journal Nature, radioactive fallout was found in the ice of Greenland, which hit Greenland more than 9,000 years ago. They were brought to our planet along with the solar wind. If such a solar storm happened now, it would leave us without electricity, communications and other benefits of civilization.
But where is the tsunami, you ask? A study published earlier in the journal Scientific Reports suggests that earthquakes can generate even less powerful solar storms than the one that occurred 9,000 years ago. And earthquakes, as we said above, cause tsunamis if they occur under the ocean floor.
According to Vito Marchitelli, lead author of the study at the University of Basilicata in Potenzo, his team was able to find a relationship between earthquakes and the proton density around the planet’s magnetosphere, which is caused by the solar wind.
When can solar storms cause tsunamis?
Solar storms, which can affect the Earth and, according to some scientists, cause earthquakes, occur when the magnetic fields on the Sun become entangled or destroyed. This results in an explosion of magnetic fields. In this case, the star ejects powerful plasma streams.
Solar wind particles, when they enter the Earth’s magnetosphere, affect the intensity of earthquakes, as they somehow exacerbate the processes that cause one tectonic plate to sink under another, the researchers say. But how realistic is this hypothesis?
In the work of scientists published in Scientific Research, it is reported that the number of earthquakes increased on our planet during the solar maximum, that is, in the 11-year period when the activity of the Sun is highest. It is during this period that the probability of solar wind emissions is highest.
However, at the moment this is only an assumption, in favor of which there are some indirect evidence, such as statistics. However, scientists cannot explain exactly how solar storms, or rather, charged particles, affect tectonic plates. And in general, it is still impossible to prove such an influence, as reported in the Scientific Research journal. But, it is possible that in the near future it will still be possible to get an exact answer to this question.